It wasn’t that long ago when high school football teams travelling to Tulsa to play Bishop Kelley would have to get dressed in the school’s gym and make the long walk to Angelo Prassa Field in order to play.
“It was not really a good situation as far as being a good host to other schools,” remarked Athletic Director Lance Parks.
To improve facilities and accommodations, the school created The Championship Drive, an impressive $8.5 million fundraising campaign. The three-phase project began in 2013 and was completed in August.
The recently completed third phase focused on improving the home side facilities at Prassa Field. New bleachers, including nearly 300 chair back seats were installed. The cherry on top is a new press box ten times the size of the previous one. Other improvements include a new parking lot, donor plaza and stadium entrances.
“We tried to upgrade the experience for not only our home fans, but also our visiting fans,” said Director of Philanthropy Doug Thomas. “The old facility had two points of entry, the new one has four.”
Other projects completed in the last six years include the construction of Jim Scalet Family Fieldhouse on the east side of the stadium and the expansion of the Dill Family Fieldhouse on the west side. New turf, lighting and a video board were also added.
“It benefits us in basically every facet of our game and in our team,” said Comets football coach J.J. Tappana.
The new and expanded facilities have also allowed Bishop Kelley to build a new weight room and add a full-time strength and conditioning coach.
“If you want to see where our athletes flourish, it’s in that room,” said Parks. “The strength and conditioning coordinator meets with all of our student athletes, all of our programs, and works with them throughout the year. It’s been a tremendous addition.”
“All of the coaches in the whole school have bought in,” added Tappana. “All of the sports in the school, everybody’s in the weight room now at least two times a week. The strength coach helps me to keep those kids involved in the weight room while they’re in other sports.”
The Championship Drive was completely funded by donations from generous alumni and community members.
“In many cases, the donors don’t have kids here anymore, said Thomas. “A lot of them are parents of alumni and their kids had a good experience while they were here and now they want to give back. So to me, that says a lot about how generous their hearts are and they’re thinking about the generations to follow.”
“Certainly we give a nod to our history here in the entire project,” added Parks, “but I love the fact that there are a lot of people that donated money that don’t have a student in athletics, but they see the value of having a facility like this for us as a community.”
Bishop Kelley administrators are proud the private school is able to give visiting schools and fans a first-rate experience when they come to their campus.
“For years, you know, we’d go to other places and people are such tremendous hosts and their facilities are so wonderful,” said Parks. “It’s kind of nice to be in that boat when folks come over here. We’re a lot better hosts and I know that, as a school, that’s representing what we are a little bit more.
It’s really made it a first-class facility for a 5A school,” added Parks. “It’s something that we’re proud of.”
Bishop Kelley takes on Tulsa Edison on Thursday, October 3rd, at 7:00 p.m. in a key high school football showdown live on Yurview Cox Channel 3. This Ford Game of the Week is also being streamed live on Yurview.com.